Date: October 26, 2006
BLOOMSBURG— Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania’s picturesque campus with its rolling hills is an attraction for many students, but the hills present a challenge for students with physical disabilities.
Lauren Fenton Cornelius, a senior with a major in social work, realized the challenges of the campus during freshmen orientation and has been determined to help others who encounter the same problems through the student organization she founded, Students Helping Students. Fenton Cornelius, a native of Nescopeck and a graduate of Berwick High School, was in a wheelchair during her freshmen orientation.
“I was temporarily disabled with a wheelchair during orientation and I had to use a walker my first semester. I experienced firsthand what it is like being disabled on this campus,” said Fenton Cornelius.
Fenton Cornelius relied on a friend while she was disabled, but she didn’t want others faced with the same problem to feel they didn’t have options. In 2001, she proposed her idea of Students Helping Students to Peter Walters, director of accommodative services for students with disabilities, who agreed to be the adviser.
“There has been a lot that has changed since I started here. I’ve changed majors and taken breaks, but one thing has remained constant and that’s my compassion for people struggling to navigate the campus,” Fenton Cornelius said.
The mission statement of Students Helping Students is to help students who are temporarily, long-term or permanently disabled by carrying academic supplies and books, accompanying them to class and providing transportation on and around the campus.
“If a student needs to go downtown to pick something up, we’ll transport them. We don’t just help on campus, we’ll help around campus, too,” said Fenton Cornelius.
Although she can’t change campus topography, Fenton Cornelius believes the organization can give people options while raising awareness.
Bloomsburg University is one of 14 universities in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education. The university serves approximately 8,000 students, offering comprehensive programs of study in the colleges of Professional Studies, Business, Liberal Arts and Science and Technology.